Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying to get our car washed in Uruguay

I have been trying to get a car wash here in Uruguay.  We want the inside and outside cleaned.

Yesterday I went to a car wash place ("lavadero") in a nearby city that I knew washed cars because when we were looking for a laundry place ("lavadero") before, I called and they said they are a car wash ("lavadero DE AUTOS!").  Except it wasn't the same place, because it was actually a laundry service (where were they when we were needing laundry done??).

But then I found a sign saying LAVADERO - autos - motos - in 50 meters, so I followed the sign and drove past a man sitting in front of his house with a vacuum and a bucket.  Hmm, not what I had in mind.  What would we do in a poor little neighborhood while we waited?  I couldn't imagine that his vacuum could really have adequate suction to get the inside cleaned like we wanted.  I worried that he would have old, very used cleaning materials that would scratch the car.  I don't know, maybe it would have been fine.  Or, maybe it was fine for all of the old cars in his neighborhood but it wasn't the best option for a new car.

I decided to try a gas station, because they offer a service ("complete wash") available for about $15 USD at most (all?) gas stations here, and when I have asked them before they said yes, they can clean the inside and outside.  Most of them don't have a drive through car wash, they have a room with some sprayers; it looks like a decent set-up for a car wash done by hand.

I had this great idea that I would go shopping at the mall while I waited for the car to be washed at a gas station across the parking lot.  Except, they wanted me to wait over 5 hours.  Okay, so I will bring the car back 4 pm?  No, I had to leave it there, no appointments.  Hmmm, okay, Paisley and I can't spend 5 hours at the mall while we just wait for the car to be washed.

So I went to another one, because maybe that one is just busy because other people want to shop while their car is washed also.

They could do it, it would be ready at 4 pm.  And that one was not by any shopping at all!  So...5 hours with nothing to do!  I started to feel kind of frustrated.  I asked him, what, do people take a taxi home?  Do they all live within walking distance?  He said no, and then I didn't understand the rest, I think you bring your car there and they take you home and then they bring you back to pick up your car when it is done.  He asked if I am American.  Yes.  Oh, yes, it is a very popular service among consulate people, etc.  I am about 30% confident that this is the service that he described.  But it sounded awkward, like, instead of taking the time to drive me around town twice, could you just use that time to wash my car?  And it didn't seem like he was really actually offering me a ride back, and installing Paisley's car seat just for a ride seemed like a pain, so I decided not to attempt that.

So I started going to the big store to get car washing supplies so that I could wash it myself, although we don't have a vacuum so I didn't know what I was going to do for that...and I passed another gas station and stopped to ask them.  He said he could do it, but that he needed to finish the one he was doing, so I would have to leave the car.  It will be ready in an hour and a half.  My heart sang!  ESTA BIEN!

The special thing about that place--aside from the really fast service--is that they are a quick 15 minute walk from our apartment!  So we just walked home to wait for the car, and then I will walk back when it is ready.

Just another experience of something that is probably easy and no big deal for Uruguayos, and a confusing hassle for us.

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